Code of Ethics (as determined by the Pro-Sumer)
The ethical, conscientious journalist must first and foremost understand the power of the written word. It is through words that regimes are built, organizations crumble, and rumors are spread. Keep in mind however, that it is also words that start revolutions, create communities, uplift society, and bring truth to light. Therefore, the ethical journalist must set forth to seek and report on such truths.
New media is by definition, the means by which we communicate in an ever changing world. This media influences and shapes how people perceive the world. The ethical journalist must understand that the medium by which they divulge information is just as important as the information itself. Seek to present material in new and innovative ways, in order to promote engagement with the story as well as further the horizons of journalistic media.
This influx of contemporary technology ushers in the age of consumer participation — these ethics apply to both professional and citizen journalists.
Transparency is integral to democracy. Be transparent about the sources of information, as well as the process in which you accessed such information. When keeping sources anonymous, there must be a clear and understandable reason for doing so. When questioned about the legitimacy of the material or any other concerns, be willing and available to respond within a reasonable time frame. Never accept bribes or succumb to threats. When censorship is forced due to governmental restrictions, note that a censorship has been made.
Regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social-economic standing or any other defining aspect, offer equal compassionate treatment to all persons. Avoid stereotypes and preconceptions, taking care to have an open mind and a pen at hand. Be considerate at all times, treating others as they wish to be treated. Respect boundaries, and pay careful attention to each and every subject. Relay as many diverse opinions as you can, lest it be an inaccurate representation of the people within the news coverage. Acknowledge what you do not know. Allow for both majorities and minorities to express themselves, and people who hold differing values and opinions. Ensure familiarity with journalistic practices when dealing with youth, children, or members of the general public before engaging in said practices.
Whenever possible, let voices speak for themselves, rather than skewing them to bolster one’s own perspective. Remain objective - report only what is heard and in the context it is heard. The people who are telling their stories are trusting that they are delivered properly and effectively. Let their voices speak for themselves. Remain impartial unless clearly stating that the work is an opinion piece, in which all sentiments belong only to one’s self. All rumors that are reported must be identified as being such. Do not conform to norms created by other media outlets; express the most accurate and fair representation of subjects.
Always be sure to proofread for spelling errors and factual inconsistencies. Assure that all facts stated come from a recognized and verified source. When correcting mistakes, note the mistake made and the changes made to it. Only publish work that satisfies one’s own personal (though subjective) standard of writing, not anything less than, as well as the standards of the journalistic body. Do not allow time constraints to lower such standards. Plagiarism and violation of copyright is not tolerated. Attribute all quotes to their respective speakers. Always strive to get the original source, rather than second-hand information.
Always ask before recording a subject, unless in exceptional cases where national security is concerned. Have the subject sign an agreement before publishing their disclosed information. When asked to take down an article, evaluate on a case by case basis, but whenever possible, leave the article up. Seek comment from subjects of one’s work, giving ample time for response before publication.
Fulfill promises made — if certain information is said to be disclosed within the title, the reader should not feel disappointed or cheated after reading it. Hooks and techniques to draw readers in are acceptable, but outright lies are not. Do not purchase views or clicks from robots as it cons sponsors. Value legibility and clarity of the writing over space for advertisers. Whenever possible, only place appropriate advertisements that cater to the determined demographic.
Record interviews to ensure accurate quotations are made. Check facts, spelling, figures and links mentioned, providing proper context for all. Present all sides of the story. Maintain consistency throughout a body of work.
Personal Staff Accounts
Keep in mind that while working for an organization, one is representing that organization unless clearly stating that one’s opinion is one’s alone. Seek to be ethical even outside of organizationally sanctioned material. Be cautious in what is posted on the Internet regardless of whether it is public or private.
Provide user-friendly and accessible outlet for public feedback, be it in the form of a comments area, email contact information, or other. Respond in a timely fashion when answers are called upon. Value consumer input, not only for the sake of views but also for constructive criticism on writing. Listen to the readers, without them, there would be no journalism. Ideally, while freedom of expression is valid, monitor the feedback forums, preventing spam and hate speech.
With the onset of new media technologies, robotic journalism may become increasingly indistinguishable from human journalism. Clearly note that the work has not been created by a human. Always have a human eye read over the automated work to remove inconsistencies. Acknowledge responsibility for all automated material published.
Consider the news-worthy aspect of a subject’s personal information being disclosed, and the potential harm such disclosure may cause. Always weigh the pros and cons of such ethical dilemmas with an objective point of view, discussing with others whenever possible. Avoid covering topics that require an objective view if one has familial or emotional ties towards that topic, possibly hindering objectivity.